Esther’s Rise as Queen
There are some interesting deductions that can be made with regard to the date and time of Esther’s being chosen as the new queen of the Persian Empire. Although the timing of these events is not obvious to a casual reader of the book, closer inspection does allow for the creation of a fairly precise timeline. Note the following:
- Both the Hebrew and Persian calendars were lunar-based, and their New Year began in about March/April in the Julian calendar (the exact time fluctuated from year to year, as the date for Easter does today). Thus Xerxes’s 3rd year began in about March of 483 BC and ended in about March of 482 BC.
- Xerxes’s main military campaign against Greece commenced in the spring of his 6th year, 480 BC. The first season ended with the defeat of the Persian fleet at Salamis in September. Apparently the main Persian military force wintered over in Greece, while Xerxes himself returned to Susa.
- Esther was chosen as queen in the 10th month of the seventh year of Xerxes (Esth 2:16), which equates to December 479 or January 478. However, this was preceded by a period of 12 months of preparation (Esth 2:12), indicating that the search for a new queen began in the previous winter.
- During that year of preparation, between the start of the search for a new queen and the pronouncement of Esther as queen, Xerxes’s military units met with disastrous defeat in Greece. In August of 479, his land forces were defeated at Plataea, and his naval forces were defeated at the Battle of Mycale at nearly the same time. This effectively marked the last gasp of the Persian drive to take over Greece.
A timeline of these events is available here.
over last summer i read herodotus history usually when i couldn’t sleep in the night or when i was waiting for a truck to fill with water im a farmer in montana. by no means a rivitiing read( i had been reading the roman, greek history around the time of our Lord. i was interested to know why herodotus never refers to the nation of israel. however recently i came to know of the timing of esther and the battle of salamis. in a small search i came across some of this you had put together. i am curious as to how much you had found out about the connection and where. i am connected to a small bible church. Thank you for taking the time to answer
Lloyd, good question. The identification of the “Ahasuerus” of Esther with the Persian king Xerxes I is accepted by the large majority of Bible scholars. The linguistic connection seems secure. If you want more, I might suggest Yamauchi’s Persia and the Bible. Once that connection is made, the rest is simply connecting the dots between the dates given in Esther (Esth 2:16; 3:7) and what is known from the life of Xerxes, and you are correct, much of that information comes from Herodotus. It is worth noting that Herodotus was a Greek, which may color his account of Xerxes (who attacked Greece), and also that Herodotus lived in the 5th century BC, when there was no nation of Israel (or Judah), at least not as a political entity.